….Lawyer: singer facing 10 charges hasn’t sexually abused anyone
‘He is a rock star, he doesn’t have to have non-consensual sex’
R Kelly has not sexually abused anyone, the singer’s lawyer told reporters outside a Chicago courthouse on Saturday, because “he is a rock star. He doesn’t have to have non-consensual sex.”
R Kelly in police custody after being charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse
Steve Greenberg spoke after the R&B singer appeared in court on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse involving four alleged victims, at least three of them said to have between the ages of 13 and 17 when their alleged attacks took place.
After a hearing which featured graphic accounts of the alleged incidents, bail was set at $1m, $250,000 for each alleged victim and with Kelly required to post $100,000 in order to be released.
The 52-year-old Grammy winner, whose real name is Robert Kelly, stood with his hands behind his back. To the judge, John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr, he said simply: “How are you?”
The judge called the charges “disturbing”.
Greenberg said his client’s finances were in disarray after he was dropped by his record label and he was not a flight risk. Referring to the 90s hit I Believe I Can Fly, he told the judge: “Contrary to the song, Mr Kelly doesn’t like to fly.”
Kelly has consistently denied any sexual misconduct. The counts against him, which Cook county state’s attorney Kim Foxx said date back as far as 1998 and span more than a decade, were unsealed on Friday.
Those present in a packed courtroom on Saturday included at least two women directly connected to the charges and family members of two women who, it is claimed, may still be living with the singer as “sexual slaves”.
The court heard disturbing details. Prosecutors said that when one alleged victim, a 24-year-old hairdresser, came to braid his hair in 2003, he greeted her with his pants down and tried to force her to engage in oral sex.
When she resisted, they said, Kelly ejaculated on her and spat in her face several times. Prosecutors said preliminary testing of DNA recovered from the alleged victim’s shirt matches that of Kelly.
Prosecutors alleged Kelly also sexually abused three underage girls, including one who said she sought his autograph while attending his 2008 trial on child pornography charges. Prosecutors also have a videotape purportedly showing Kelly having sex with a girl who was 14 at the time.
In 2002, a tape prosecutors said showed Kelly having sex with a girl estimated to have been as young as 13 formed the basis of a 14-count indictment. Six years later, a Cook county jury acquitted him. On Friday, Greenberg told reporters charges tied to the 2008 ruling should be discounted due to “double jeopardy … He won that case.”
Also on Friday Michael Avenatti, a lawyer known for representing the Donald Trump accuser Stormy Daniels, offered a detailed account of a VHS tape that allegedly shows Kelly assaulting a 14-year-old girl. According to Avenatti, the 40-minute tape shows Kelly assaulting the teen at his “residence” sometime in the late 1990s. It allegedly contains two scenes shot on separate days.
Avenatti added that he represents six clients, including two alleged victims, two parents and two people described as being in Kelly’s inner circle.
It was “clear” from the video, he said, that the singer had the victim watch another piece of pornography, “which appears to be him with yet another young girl”.
Avenatti said he was aware of at least two other tapes, one of which had been handed to authorities. He accused Kelly of swaying his 2008 trial “through threats and intimidation of witnesses”, among other things.
Greenberg denied any knowledge of a new tape. He also said he thought “all the women are lying, yes. This has become: ‘Hey I can say R Kelly did something.’ Boom. ‘Oh I met R Kelly once, he looked at me the wrong way.’ Boom, money.”
Kelly’s arrest sets the stage for another #MeToo trial. Last year, Bill Cosby was convicted after several women testified the comedian drugged and assaulted them. Former Hollywood studio boss Harvey Weinstein is awaiting trial on charges of rape and assault.
The new charges against Kelly carry up to seven years in prison. If found guilty the singer could receive up to 70 years behind bars.
The charges follow the release of a BBC documentary last year and the Lifetime documentary Surviving R Kelly, which aired last month. A social media movement using the hashtag #MuteRKelly has called on streaming services to drop him and promoters not to book concerts. Protesters have picketed Kelly’s Chicago studio.
Surviving R Kelly review – disturbing but deeply flawed
In January, Lady Gaga apologised for working with Kelly and promised to remove their duet, Do What U Want, from streaming services. Gaga called stories about Kelly’s alleged sexual predation “horrifying” and “indefensible”, adding: “I stand behind these women 1,000%.”
On Thursday, two women held a news conference in New York to allege Kelly picked them out of a crowd at a Baltimore after-party in 1995, when they were underage.
The women, Latresa Scaff, 40, and Rochelle Washington, 39, claim Kelly had sex with Scaff when she was under the influence of marijuana and alcohol. Their attorney, Gloria Allred, described Kelly as a “sexual predator”.
The barrage of charges and claims almost certainly bring Kelly’s career to a close. After breaking on to the R&B scene in 1993 with 12 Play – an album that spawned sex-themed songs such as Bump n’ Grind and Your Body’s Callin’ – he worked with stars including Celine Dion, Michael Jackson, Jay Z and Usher.
But rumors about his behaviour persisted. He faced allegations that when he was 27 he married 15-year-old Aaliyah, an R&B star who later died in a plane crash. Kelly was lead songwriter and producer of her 1994 debut album.
Kelly and Aaliyah never confirmed the marriage but Vibe magazine published a copy of the purported marriage license. Court documents obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times showed Aaliyah admitted lying about her age on the license.
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